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News

SA hint Miller likely to continue in top order

David Miller did not break his drought of international half-centuries but could still find himself at the top of South Africa's ODI order more often in the future as part of a new strategy which involves saving the most skilled players to face spin

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
18-Oct-2015
David Miller did not break his drought of international half-centuries but could still find himself at the top of South Africa's ODI order more often in the future as part of a new strategy which involves saving the most skilled players to face spin.
"He is a very positive player. I like him up the order with new hard ball in India," AB de Villiers, South Afirca's captain explained. "It gives myself, Hashim [Amla] and Francois [du Plessis] an opportunity to bat against the spinners in the middle overs. They've got 30 overs of spin in the game and I'd like to think Hashim, myself and Faf are the best players of spin in the team so for us to bat 3, 4 and 5 gives India a feeling that they've got a lot of work to do to get through our batting line up which worked to the 't' today."
India's spin-heavy attack, which featured a trio of tweakers for the first time in the series, managed to tie South Africa down but not to shut them out. Du Plessis employed his signature uber-patience to survive the strangle and gave South Africa's finishers a chance to end with a flourish, and it may be the way they look to play in the subcontinent in the future.
"Hashim didn't come off, I also didn't come off but Faf came off," de Villiers said. "There's always one of the three that comes off in the middle overs and gives freedom for Farhaan [Behardien] and JP [Duminy] to enjoy themselves at the end."
The new plan did not entirely answer the questions that have been plaguing Miller, who has looked out of touch and unsure in both his footwork and his strokeplay, but de VIlliers was pleased with the start he had. "David [Miller] and Quinton [de Kock] played exceptionally well, there's not a lot of turn with the new ball and both left-handers looked very comfortable against the spin on what was a slowish wicket and not easy for us to bat on. They made it look easy so I was very happy with the start today. They laid a foundation."
De Kock went on to build on that foundation to announce his return to the international circuit after months of struggle which started when he was rushed back into the squad following an ankle injury. He was expected to spend months out of the game after he rolled on his ankle last December but made a remarkable recovery to return to action in January, although he appeared out of touch.
He was dropped from the South African side in Bangladesh over the winter but worked his way back with centuries for the A side in India, and in Rajkot showed how he refound his form. He batted through difficult periods of heat - in the literal and figurative sense (it was 37 degrees and India's spinners were making life tough) - to score his first century this year.
"I think he answered a lot of questions," de Villiers said. "He is a unique player, he has an immense amount of talent and I love to have him in the side. It's very nice to have him back doing his thing with the bat and with the gloves. I thought he played extremely well, against the spin, against the seam, paced his innings well, played a mature knock. A lot of opening batsmen on this kind of wicket would have thought to get too many boundaries upfront. He paced his innings well, he got his ones with the odd boundary in between. Amazing batting."
South Africa are back in the lead and de Villiers hopes they can go for the kill at the earliest opportunity. "We sit here 2-1 up against India and it's a great position to be in," he said. "We have a wonderful opportunity to win a series. We won't touch the money yet but we've got a good chance. We have to win one out of the last two, of course we'd love to win both."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent